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Men. Men with guns. Why not? Two of them, two men, and in keeping with my usual themes they’ll be brothers. The older of the two, that’s Jack—and while we’re on the subject, the younger one’s Lawrence. God, just looking at them, you’re reminded—they’re the kind of people who can remind you—of what the difference is between the merely good-looking and the truly beautiful, between those of us who are fine to look at and those of us who are fine the same way a masterpiece is fine. These two men, our brothers, are really and truly handsome, so handsome it’s almost painful sometimes to look at them.

You see them out of the corner of your eye in the supermarket, buying supermarket brand laundry detergent, the cheap shampoo, deodorant, two or three litre bottles of soda and instant coffee and all of a sudden you get the Feeling. You’re jealous. You want to be like them; they’re special. That’s the power of the honestly handsome, like some kind of magic. You want to know who they are—who are they, you wonder—and where they come from, why they’re here, the full and annotated list of what’s in the shopping cart down to if they’re buying toilet paper or not and if they are, what kind. Without being able to stop yourself, you’re willing to stoop that low for them, for the power their beauty has over you. Really beautiful people can do that, giving you the physical impression, lancing straight through your belly, that they have a story to tell and, most importantly, you actually want to hear it.

These are my brothers. Don’t forget about their guns; I’ll get to them. Jack and Lawrence have guns for a reason, not just for that rule you learned in your playwriting workshop when you were fourteen years old: if there’s a gun in scene one, someone’s going to get shot by the time the curtain comes down in the last act. That’s also the same class in which you learned the “Who’s there?” line that opens Hamlet is the crux of the matter, just as all first lines are the crux of the matter. The crux of my matter is men, men with guns, though I’m no man and shot only once, cans off a fence in the middle of nowhere, Massachusetts, but never mind.

Jack is twenty-five and Lawrence is twenty. In the supermarket. Shopping. You watch them go up and down the aisles like shopping in the supermarket is something relatively special, which makes you wonder if the daily routine feel of it, teabags and tomato sauce and dairy and dog food, doesn’t soothe them somehow, rhythmic lullaby that it is, humdrum and weary.

Five years ago something terrible happened. Jack made a choice—decisions have to be made no matter how you have to make them, and there’s no way to avoid life’s most ordinary progression. It’s possible Jack made the right choice and the terrible thing happened anyway, the right terrible thing. Or maybe it was honest-to-god random, nothing premeditated or foreordained. Just roll with it. Here’s what went down.

Jack was twenty, without the same bruises in his eyes that lend them such depth of color, the bruises he has now, in aisle five, wondering if he should buy tuna even though he’s not really a fan because at least it’s cheap.

(Twenty year-old Jack, five years ago. Come on, make a decision.)

Twenty year-old Jack knows things most people don’t know, like how pirates maraud the night sky in ships of dark matter echoing the deepest ripples of a dark energy sea. He know that all this has to do with how we sleep and why we dream, the importance of our human nature, the littler monsters, fear and the creep of faith. There’s only one real god left, king of dreaming, and someone’s got to keep him and his pirates in check. Someone’s got to be a sandman. Someone’s got to look out for the people who might drown in their dreams. It’s just him and Lawrence now since Dad sailed off into that ocean three years back and left them the family business, sentinels of sleep.

Have I copped out? Are dreams unsatisfying? They’re dangerous territory, everyone says so.

“Look after your brother,” Dad says, just before he leaves. “Either I’ll make a difference or I won’t, but can you do that, Jack?”

“Yeah,” Jack says. “Yeah, I can do that.”

“All right.” Dad claps him on the shoulder.

But that was three years before the terrible thing, not that three years is enough to get over any loss as fundamental as that, especially when Jack knows how dangerous it is to close his eyes. For three years, Jack remembers his father’s advice: sleep in shifts, watch for the signs, don’t look over your shoulder when you run ‘cause seeing what’s there won’t help you and looking only slows you down. Can you do that, Jack? Yeah, Jack can do that. Jack does that for three years until the terrible thing happens in the face of something that might have been worse.

Sleep almost takes Lawrence.

How does Jack know? Jack knows. Dreams are just waiting for you to let your guard down, which is what sleep’s supposed to be, only Jack’s never known that kind of rest and, through force of habit and the secrets he lives by knowing, he’s long since stopped craving it. Lawrence is fifteen, though, a dangerous age, and Jack’s not Dad. Jack lets his guard down sometimes. Jack isn’t ready to sail off into the night, dreams twinkling in the darkness like the stars and everything in between their separate, burning worlds unmapped and stretching by the second. Twenty kilometers per second, to be exact.

Sleep almost takes Lawrence and Jack goes in there, guns blazing, just to stop it. Can’t save someone you love from a good dream, Dad used to say, because you’re too close. Your dream self might even be in that dream and what happens then? You both die. Guns don’t work on a doppelganger. You die in a dream, you stay dead everywhere. Jack knows all this and he goes in there, guns blazing, to pull Lawrence out. It’s never been done before. Look after your brother. Can you do that, Jack? Yeah, I can do that.

Jack just doesn’t talk about what happened in there. Lawrence doesn’t remember it. What matters, what’s important, is that Jack pulls Lawrence out, but the action’s not without its price; you shoot dreams up enough they tear and Dad never explained what to do with a torn dream other than let it bleed out into the real world, nothing to do but wait for the dream poison to get into your waking veins. Only, Jack thinks as the terrible thing is done, only Lawrence is safe and that’s what counts. Other people are going to die in the dreaming but Jack feels zero remorse and if called on to do it again, he knows what he’d say. And that’s that.

Getting into a dream is easy, just don’t forget to go in armed. Set up the dream catchers just right and you can catch yourself inside a dream.

Maybe dreams are copping out. They’re certainly dangerous territory. What you have to remember is that here, dreams count just as much as the waking stuff; that’s the catch, the center, the head of the pin, the heart of the web. We are such stuff as dreams are made of; we’re made of stars. Just relax. Let go. Believe it. The dreams are tearing at the fissures of the real and they’re bleeding through, little by little. Jack knows—it’s his fault. We’re responsible for what we dream.


Jack and Lawrence don’t actually exist, so when I see them in the supermarket, needless to say, I don’t even believe it.

“Hey, do we want cheerios or what?” Jack asks, holding up the box and giving it a shake. “Cause they taste like cardboard, man, no way I’m eating that crap.”

“Yeah, well, we can’t get honey bunches of diabetes for breakfast, either,” Lawrence says.

“Jesus,” Jack says, but he puts the cheerios in the cart anyway.

This is the Shelburne Falls Stop’n’Shop, nee Price Chopper. Jack and Lawrence shouldn’t be here, and not just because I made them up. This is self-insertion of the worst kind, but who’s going to stop it? Me? I don’t even know what’s going on, but there they are, men with guns, rifling through for the cheapest coffee and as beautiful as I always imagined. They have the same chin and Jack has the more striking eyes. He also has a vulnerable mouth, which he makes up for by looking at you sideways and setting his jaw to make sure you don’t notice. Somehow Lawrence, who’s taller and more serious, still looks younger anyway. I didn’t even recognize their car out in the lot.

I try to remember what it means, if anything, that I’m seeing them. Something to do with dreams.

“Adirondack Ginger Ale,” Jack says. “Awesome. Pretty cheap, too.”

If I ignore him, maybe he’ll go away. I spend a lot of time looking at the bread until I’m sure they’ve got to be done by now, done and already on the road, moving on, chasing dreams and keeping guard and not really resolving their issues. That much I remember: unresolved issues. I like unresolved issues, men, men with guns, dreams, oblique references to the science I’ve picked up over the years. The usual tropes. Brothers.

I’m not expecting it when our eyes meet at last over the Good Humor ice cream sandwiches, which I can’t eat because I’m lactose intolerant. We’re responsible for what we dream—I remember that part.

“Shit,” Jack says. “It’s you.”

The first thing I can think of to say, I say. “Are you mad?” I ask.

“Yeah,” he says. “A little.”

“How’s, uh,” I ask, “how’s Lawrence?”

“Alive,” Jack says. “Probably buying wonderbread right now. Shit, that was fast.”

“What was fast?”

“Well,” Jack explains, “we’ve been looking for you. Only you’d moved. We figured you were on to us, knew we were coming, didn’t want to face up to what you’d done. I didn’t think you’d just be here.”

“You’re not real,” I point out. “I made you up.”

“Yeah, thanks for that, by the way. I’m really—I’m enjoying all the things you did to us.” Jack plays with the amulet I gave him and never figured out the actual meaning for, something I actually found once at a museum and had to have, a little vial full of liquid and something they called ‘star dust’ but was probably dirt or glitter or something. I also gave Jack the tendency to play with the amulet, his good, manly fingers, dirty fingernails significant of some character trait, like how maybe being clean isn’t as important as getting the job done.

“So,” I say. “Are you—is this payback or something?”

“Unfinished business,” Jack says. “We tore that dream world open, sweetcheeks. You and me.” He comes around to my side and puts a hand on my arm, smelling all manly, and a little bit like detergent. He’s wearing red corduroy, my favorite of his favorite button-down shirts. “But you never finished the story. So, now we’ve got a problem.”

“We’re responsible for what we dream?”

“Hole in one,” Jack says. “Come on out to the car. Lawrence is waiting.”
I should be working on finals and studying and not really wasting my time, but of course I am NOT working on finals and studying and really, really wasting my time. I owe a story for hitting my 10,000 hits mark, so I was fiddling around on a long train ride yesterday and came up with this. I don't know if it works, and it's certainly not done, but I'm really interested to see some opinions on it and whether it's interesting or just plain cracked, so let me know. Dreams. Brothers. Guns. Hubble's Constant.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2009-09-22
Let ~ladyjaida's Dreamcatcher be a warning to all of those who like to dream up beautiful characters and don't complete their stories. Imaginary people like closure, too, and aren't afraid to go after it, in the most unexpected of places. ( Featured by SparrowSong )
akky3210 Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Pwetty-pwease finish it!!!
Neino Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
Whoa, I love this! This would make a great beginning to an original book.
Aerilita Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Maybe it's better left as it is.

Your imagination feels right to me.
Shabboth Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2011  Professional Writer
Interesting concept, I'd certainly like to see it developed more completely. ;)

An enjoyable read.
Invierna Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2010
This was so awesome. Now I feel bad about everyone I made and just sorta left in rooms in the back of my mind. Great job!
JOe-AWESOMEness Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2010
beautifully written, i was captured. :heart:
RayneWolfspeaker Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
this story was absolutey wonderful!
are you planning to continue it, or is this a one time thing?
ninjasheep8 Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2010
That was brilliant! I genuinely couldn't stop reading :)
azraels-bride Featured By Owner Jan 23, 2010
beautifully written and awesome concept.
mikileereyes Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
i'm a bit embarrassed to say you got me at "men with guns. why not?" and "two of them"! haha! LOVE the meta in this!
TheOnlyWarman Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2009  Professional General Artist
pretty amazing I started reading this when the power came out i got so hooked i didn't even care when the power came back on and I heard my cat giving birth in the kitchen, needless to say this was awesome
Ma-lady Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2009
Very Chuck Palahniuk. Who's my fav. So naturally, I dug the hell out of this too. You should finish it.
Ma-lady Featured By Owner Sep 24, 2009
Very Chuck Palahniuk. Who's my fav. So naturally, I dug the hell out of this too. You should finish it.
XangelsonthemoonX Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2009
Aboslutely stunning. If you are not a proffesional writer you really need to be. I would buy your books without hesitation. Your personality shines through your writing and your style draws me in, I was hooked from the first sentence to the last.
Leunbrund Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2009   Digital Artist
Oh....Oh my GOD....It's like..Holy crap. This is incredible.
JaguarGal Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2009  Student General Artist
Ahh, I love everything about this piece! You've captured your characters so well, and your style of writing is so unique! If you ever publish a book, I'm going to buy it, certainly.

Keep up the great work! <3
fireilluminator Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Student General Artist
I love it!

the way jack and you tore open a drean and now their real!

LeodaV Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
you write amazingly ^^
Siemari Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
Just awesome, wow. A very good read:heart:
Reminded me a lot of Supernatural ;3

You have a fantastic style of writing <3
Keep it up~!
Eruraina Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
btw, I would really love if you'd continue this! I'd totally read it!
Eruraina Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
If this was true... I would have so many unreal characters coming to try to find me.

This is some awesome work!
TheTinyHobo Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009   General Artist
Hahaha, now this is an awesome take on a cautionary tale! I love it. Just fantastic. The beginning pulled me in and wouldn't let me go until I finished! That's the mark of powerful writing.

It's certainly something I can relate to, and I'm sure there are many others who can as well.
This definitely inspires me to pick up on my own projects--how can we be so cruel as to create characters just to pass the idle hour?

I wish I could write more to you, but it's 12:40 am and my space bar is barely working. But you should know that you're incredibly witty and fabulous for writing this, and the DD was well deserved!
jAMrIC92 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Student General Artist
Aweeeeeeeeeeeeesome :iconhurrplz:
AnnoyingRooster Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
of course you've heard this a lot...but this really is a beautiful piece. it has a rough, innocent, yet guilty voice to it (if that makes any sense lmao). I've always wondered what happened to the stories i can no longer finish because i don't remember how i wanted them to end. This is an interesting take on it =D
and reading this made me want to pick back up on my writing lmao
Aranov Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Professional Artisan Crafter
Outstanding. Your style here is wonderfully suited to the work, and it's very attention-grabbing, refusing to relinquish its grip til the end. I'm not sure I want more, really- it might destroy the tenuous thread connecting reality and fiction here. A masterful work, and my congratulations on your DD.
MercurialInk Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
Wow. I started this and I just couldn't stop!
Fang11803 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Student General Artist
Beautiful writing. I was sucked right in.
t33n1ckXIII Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Oh must continue this!!! Amazing!!! :+fav:
Greyvius1 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
really, you are an awesome writer, with a beatiful imagination.
Wolf-Flash Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009 Just, wow. :heart:
NocturnalMelody9 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
aaahhh!!! simply amazing!!!! :heart:
AshlynnBones Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009   Artist
This is fantastic. ^_^
zebraBird Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
wow. woow. WOOOW. :speechless:
Cluadio Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
this is absolutely amazing!
bRoKeNgRiN Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
Wow! That was really interesting. I like the narrative form too! It was fun reading prose that sounded like a mumbling mind. Great job. I like the premise of sentinels on guard for dreams too. Interesting concept. I also enjoyed how you ended it. Some of the best prose is that without a real final and conclusive ending. Or rather, something that seems to spell "THE END." I hope you get more inspiration to write like this. And I hope you did well on your finals. :P Oh, by the way, you had a slight typo in the story at this part:

dark energy sea. He know*

Just need an "s". Anywho, I'm glad I go to read it and congrats on the daily deviation!
VoxVocisCruora Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Wonderful, i love how this is written!

XD it makes me want to go back and finish my character backgrounds for all my OC's.

Very wonderful work!
Sorelliena Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Student Digital Artist
That was... just... fantastic.

I haven't read anything that good since... I don't even know. X_X

Maybe it's the way you capture them :)

Thanks for writing such a beautiful piece~
snowleezard Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
This looks like the start to a really awesome story :) is there more?
RebelFire Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I feel like I need to finish my stories now. Like, RIGHT now.

Thanks for so much inspiration!
Lil-Miss-Ada Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
Wow, loved it! Very interesting. The ending was wonderful!
SasukeUchiha22 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Professional Interface Designer
That was really inspiring. I love the whole thought of a dream becoming reality. It's a really interesting idea. :)
Ryven Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
This is awesome. Makes me wish my characters would appear and give me a much needed kickstart in the rear! :XD:
silvanoir Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Hobbyist
Ever see the movie "Stranger than fiction" ? It's about a man who is a character in a woman's book and he has to convince her not to kill him off at the end.

So you should tell your characters it's better to be an unfinished story than a dead one!
Vanshira Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Continue this. Nao.
kkobsessed Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Student Traditional Artist
Did you ever think of becoming an author? I would but this if that was the first chapter in the book at a store, because that's what I do, read a bit of the first chapter and see if it hooks me. Do you mind if I ask you to continue this? I would love to read more of it if you do.
ElenAtalantie Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
Ack. Beautifulbeautifulbeautiful. I am now afraid to go to the supermarket, I might meet up with some unfinished dreams.
PullItApart Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
That was awesome, really.
InvaderSquall5558 Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Student Traditional Artist
excellent writing. your characters are phenominal. not that it will mean much coming from someone you don't know, but you've got talent.
LAS-T Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009
yeah..i like dreaming about beautiful people too..bad thing is when you wake up everything in your life looks uglier ;P
lovely piece :clap: well done
Rinnian Featured By Owner Sep 22, 2009  Student General Artist
I was absolutely sucked into this. Couldn't stop for anything, and I should be studying to. I think the 'not studying' thing is contagious.

At any rate, I adored it. I'd love to see this finished.
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